Syrup fave and body positivity queen Lizzo and The Good Place star and “life positivity” activist Jameela Jamil just got together to chat about self-confidence, social media criticism and more… and honestly, it was everything I needed today.
In a special video on Jameela Jamil’s I Weigh podcast, the “Truth Hurts” singer opened up about her journey to accept and love her own body and how her own journey led to her unintentionally becoming a body positive icon, and how she’s dealt with social media criticism.
In 2018, Oprah asked Lizzo’s managers if they could use one of her songs, “Worship,” in an ad. Stoked and over the moon that The Oprah wanted to use her music, Lizzo gave her team the a-okay verbally while on set for a shoot. Little did she realise that the ad would be for Weight Watchers, a diet health company that Oprah recently required in an attempt to rebrand it as a wellness platform.
When the ad went live, Lizzo was met with backlash. She first published a clip of the ad on her Instagram Feed before archiving it. As many fans apparently were quick to tell her, they felt that WW was the total opposite of the ‘love your body for what it is’ mantra Lizzo preaches.
“The good thing about backlash is that it gives these kind of wicked people who’ve been getting away with a lot of shit for way too long, like, direct access to the people and the people can voice their concerns and their outrage,” Lizzo said, reflecting on her own experience with backlash and cancel culture at the time.
“I think that’s great but I also think it’s gotten to a point where backlash is being commercialised, especially by a lot of brands who are posting things on purpose to generate backlash and bring attention to their brand.”
“I got accused of doing blackface,” admits Lizzo, taking in a deep sigh and looking exhausted. “Girl, it was one of my shoots where there was a photo of me and they colourised it and they deepened it.”
“And so my skin is like, which by the way I’m caramel so I’m light-skinned in the winter, brown-skinned in the summer… But they deepened it so I look maybe three or four shades darker, and they were like, ‘oh my God, why couldn’t you hire, dark-skinned models? This is Blackface,’ and I was like, ‘I’m Black!’ Like what?”
“So there are gonna be people that are angry. They’re angry and they just want to say things and to that, my message is positivity so I cannot let that affect me. But I also have a responsibility to listen to the people and learn from people. I think that’s why I am where I am because of my relationship with people online.”
“Occasionally I will get defensive because I’m human and sometimes the noise when your profile rises becomes so loud, but I’ve learnt the most from being criticised and called out,” added I Weigh host and actress Jameela Jamill.
“I’ve always said, ‘thank you to everyone for educating me,’” she continued. “I’m fine with critique, but I think we need to separate critique from cancel culture.”
“At the end of the day, that’s just what’s going to happen,” replies Lizzo. “They’re going to be fucking mad and they’re going to be fucking happy. They don’t think that we can see this shit though.”
Later on in the podcast, Lizzo gave an anecdote as to what it’s like being online as someone with a platform and being able to visibly see people’s reactions to everything you do.
“[Not being online is like] you walk into a room and you didn’t put on deodorant and so you have a funk, and you walk into the room and normally you don’t hear anyone’s thoughts,” she said. “You’re like ‘hey girl, hey girl!’ They smell your funk, it’s whatever.”
“Social media is walking into the room, and not wearing deodorant and you got a little funk and everyone’s thought bubbles are popping up like ooh! And they all saying like, ‘oh I don’t like that smell,’ or ‘ooh I love that smell,’ or ‘ooh she smell like this,’ ‘she ain’t take a bath.’”
“That’s what social media is. People in the room— we’re just seeing these thought bubbles.” When it comes to negative comments on her social media, Lizzo says she addresses people and almost always they react surprised and apologetic.
“You wrote on my page, why didn’t you think I was gonna see it?”
You can watch the full video with Lizzo and Jameela Jamil below: